In the middle of all the rapid changes of the current era, Japan is losing its traditional culture, its crafts and its skills. At Nine Bridges, we think the answer to this problem lies in looking outwards to the world, and with a well-balanced team, addressing the causes of the problem with clearly defined strategies and concrete steps.
A Decreasing Population
As the birth-rate declines and the population grows older, domestic demand falls, reducing the people’s purchasing power. The population continues to be drawn towards Tokyo and away from the regional cities, where the decreasing workforce becomes more and more apparent. This leaves fewer and fewer young people in those regional cities to inherit traditional skills and carry on the work of city-building. In addition, as the families responsible for presiding over Japan’s shrines and temples also decrease, it becomes increasingly difficult to secure the funds needed to maintain and preserve them.
The Advancement of Technology
While technology has greatly improved our lives, it simultaneously contributes to the erasure of those characteristics that make up the heart of traditional Japanese culture. The wares of traditional craftsmen take a great deal of time, effort, and skill to create, so the cost of an individual piece is much higher than something that has been mass-produced by machines. In future, with the rise of technologies such as 3D printing or robots with artificial intelligence, great changes will continue to occur in many different fields. If we only chase after lower prices and higher efficiency, we will lose the spirit of making objects with a human touch.
Due to post-war educational reform, the Japanese have become greatly westernized, and the customs that used to be characteristic of Japanese everyday life have vanished. As a result, traditional furniture and everyday objects are also disappearing as their production declines.
The old residence of a wealthy farmer – without efforts to maintain these mansions, they rapidly decay (Niigata City)
The cost of preserving historical structures is high. As domestic demand for traditionally crafted goods falls, business becomes unsustainable, and without a successor, these crafts die out.
For the reasons listed above, the spirit of traditional Japan is rapidly vanishing. It is easy enough to say that this is just the price of a more convenient lifestyle, or that this is just the natural consequence of change – however, if we abandon our traditional culture, we can no longer truly call this Japan.
While this danger has already been reported on by the media, through our own personal experience visiting and talking to craftsmen and priests throughout Niigata Prefecture, we have gained a deep understanding of the situation. Though there are many Japanese who can also see this danger, they have their hands full protecting their own way of life.
Why Global Connections Are Necessary
A Wider Commercial Sphere
If you look outwards from Japan, you can see that there are people in countries all over the world who love Japanese culture. Domestic demand for traditional handcrafted goods is limited – the simple solution is to spread the market overseas to those people with an interest in Japanese culture.
Rediscover Japanese Culture Through the Eyes of Other Countries
To those living in Japan, Japanese culture is so intertwined with the everyday that it can be easy to lose sight of its depths and complexity. Seeing it from the perspective of those overseas can reaffirm the value of Japanese traditions and re-establish what it means to be Japanese.
Support from International Lovers of Japanese Culture
Creating a community means more than just creating a market for goods and services. We can use our technological skills to raise awareness of the dangers Japan’s traditional skills are facing and propose possible solutions, such as crowdfunding.
(Caption: There are people all over the world who love Japanese culture)
To create contents, perform marketing, form online communities, and construct effective lines of flow in order to develop and expand our projects.
By uncovering the sleeping treasures of the regional cities in beautiful and compelling web magazines, we’ll create new fans of Japanese culture all over the world. By setting up communities online, we’ll stimulate tourism to the regional cities and open up new markets for Japanese goods and services overseas, ensuring that traditional crafts and skills continue to exist for years to come.
The material we cover isn’t subject to change, so the value of our information doesn’t decrease with time. Our goal is to create something rich and profound, even if that takes time.
About Nine Bridges
The members of Nine Bridges are creators and marketers, people who have personal experienced living abroad. While basing ourselves here in the regional cities of Japan, through the nine areas of people, goods, services, culture, history, places, philosophy, nature, and arts, we will form a bridge between Japan and the world.
About our Logo
Our logo uses one of the Genjikō crests (a part of the lesser-known Japanese art Kōdō, or “Way of Incense”), known as hashihime. Hashihime is an ancient goddess who blocks the path of bad influences such as infectious diseases, a protective deity of bridges.
The perspective of those from Japan and from overseas, as well as the birds-eye view of those who aren’t constrained by the lines of nationality.
Analog Spirit, Digital Expertise
In this increasingly digital world, we use our expertise to anticipate the next change and make the first move, while at the same time staying true to an analog spirit that values traditions and nature.
Rich Contents Creation
We do not just use advertising tools to promote the works of others. We also propose our own ideas and produce our own media. We put some of our revenue towards making these contents and improving our communication skills, widening the range of possibilities for future projects.
Construction of Networks
Through our owned media properties, we are building a network connecting us to entrepreneurs and creators overseas. Through marketing, new product development, and research into the customs and tastes of target audiences, we can help boost conversion rates and mitigate risks. We are creating a pipeline that will allow the instant spread of information from the regional cities to the globe.
Training Human Resources
We would like to start a program to train individuals in cross-cultural communication – how to respect and appreciate the differences between countries while loving and promoting their own country’s culture. English language acquisition would of course be included, along with skills such as web design, photography, and film-making.
Constructing a Replica of a Nostalgic Japanese Village
After obtaining support both domestically and internationally, we would like to construct a village somewhere near one of the regional cities that would allow visitors to slip backwards in time to historical Japan. All of our tourist spots today were created by someone at some point in time. We’d like to challenge ourselves to create a new kind of space that nobody has seen before.
Our role at Nine Bridges is to link Japan’s traditional culture from the past to the present, and from the present to the future.